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Newspaper columnist among victims of massacre in Mumbai

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Extends Solidarity to India's Media Community

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses its deep sense of anguish over the loss of innocent life in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the 60-hour long siege of three landmark buildings in India's commercial metropolis.

"We mourn all the lives that have been lost and note in particular that the killing of Sabina Sehgal Saikia within hours of the terrorists commandeering the historic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai has left Indian journalism the poorer," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

Saikia was a cultural commentator with The Times of India, India's largest English-language newspaper, widely-read in recent times for a column on culinary matters.

The IFJ extends its condolences to Saikia's family in this hour of deep loss.

The IFJ is informed by its affiliate organisations that India's media community has played a major role in bringing the horrors of Mumbai home to millions of households in the country.

"The IFJ applauds the significant contribution that journalists in India have made in keeping the public informed about this traumatic event," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

There have been, reportedly, some issues raised about the ethics of media coverage in such contingencies, as with a Hindi news channel's decision to air telephone conversations with two of the gunmen.

The news channel, the IFJ has learned, quickly discontinued the transmission. It has since been sent a notice by India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asking for an explanation of its conduct.

According to current information, the news channel is standing by its decision and has prepared its response to the Ministry.

"The IFJ is confident that India's journalists will resolve these ethical issues in a manner that is consistent with the country's rich traditions of media diversity, pluralism and openness," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

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